Lookout’s new theft alerts can help users get a photo of phone thieves


Stolen phones are a major economic and convenience problem for American consumers who cannot rely on legislation to protect their personal devices. Aside from insurance for phone replacements, smartphone users can also use apps to help them track their stolen devices. Lookout is one such app, and its new update has a feature that can help users snap a photo of a thief if a password is entered incorrectly.  

Thieves take common actions seconds after stealing a phone, including removing the SIM card or powering off the device, which prevent the owner from calling or tracking it. Lookout’s Theft Alerts recognizes these actions, and within minutes sends the victim an email with 1) a photo of the thief and 2) a map of the device’s exact location*, providing the victim with clues to take immediate action and get their phone back. Actions that trigger a Theft Alert include:

• Incorrect passcode entered
• SIM card removed*
• Airplane mode enabled*
• Device turned off
• Lookout removed as device administrator

The photo feature is not exclusive to Lookout alone. Cerberus also has the ability to take a picture with your stolen device’s front facing camera if you have Android 2.3.

For T-Mobile users on the carrier’s Jump program, Lookout’s new alerts will come automatically. For everyone else, alerts will only be unlocked with a premium subscription of $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year.

If you’re not invested in security apps already, you might want to consider using Lookout, CerebrusPreyAndroid Lost, Android Device Manager, or Apple Activation Lock. According to Lookout’s research, “1 in 10 U.S. smartphone owners are victims of phone theft and 68 percent of victims were unable to recover their device after the theft occurred. The reality is that whether your smartphone is white, black, or gold, it is now almost 30 times more valuable per ounce than a block of solid silver — and almost as easy to convert discreetly into cash.”

Here are highlights from the survey, first published via Lookout’s blog:

How smartphones are stolen:

  • 44% were stolen because the owner left the phone behind in a public setting
  • 14% were stolen from a car or house that was burglarized
  • 11% were stolen off the victim’s person: out of their hands, pockets, purses, or bags

Where phones are stolen:

  • 16% in a restaurant
  • 11% at bar/nightclub
  • 11% at work
  • 6% on public transportation
  • 5% on the street

When phones are stolen:

  • 40% between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • 29% between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • 18% between 10 p.m and 5 a.m.